Friday, November 30, 2012

The Autism House Rules

The rules are...there ain't no rules.

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. That's a line from Grease. If you have never heard of Grease and have no idea what I'm referring to, please refrain from letting me know in the comments. It will only make me feel old.

So...back to "the house rules."

The Boy has been having a tough time in school lately. Truth be told, he's having a tough time at home too. There's been a lot of changes since September and it's tough to know what he understands and what he doesn't.

And he's exhibiting behaviors. And being non-compliant. I am grateful he is in a good place where his teachers understand him and want to help him rather than writing him off as a "bad" kid who they are not willing to tolerate.

That's something I've been struggling with lately. We had an unpleasant experience a few months ago at a friends home. And we were kicked out (yes, literally yelled at to "Get Out!" and escorted to the the door) due to The Boy's "intolerable" behavior. But I'm not really ready to talk about that yet...

The other day, The Boy's teacher wrote in the communication notebook that since the Sandy break, The Boy has been acting out, getting upset, not listening and she shared the classroom rules with me. She said that when The Boy is not compliant, she goes over the class rules with him and redirects him. She says it helps.

Since then, I've been going over the rules with him and I decided to make up our own house rules and post them around our little apartment.

What rules do you set in your house?

How do you reinforce them? 

Please. This mom needs to know.   


Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm Hosting a Twitter Party for Global Motherhood #InspireCare

Did you know that in the United States, the infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the industrialized world? And that for the first time since the 1950’s, that rate is on the rise. That doesn't seem at all possible in the year 2012, but unfortunately - it is.  
Johnson and Johnson's has partnered with organizations like Save the Children, Pro Mujer, and Text4baby as part of their Global Motherhood Initiative.

Join us tonight (11/29) to learn more about Johnson & Johnson’s Global Motherhood initiatives which focus on saving and improving the lives of women and children globally. You’ll have a chance to ask questions, share stories, be inspired and spread the word about social good through social media.

  • Date:  Thursday, November 29th, 2012
  • Time:  9 pm- 10pm EST
  • Hostesses: @LaliQuin @independantmami and @rubydw
  • Hashtags: #LATISM #InspireCare
  • To join: 
A while back I wrote about the woman who inspires me to care. And then, this woman inspired a nation simply by doing her job.

It's my first time hosting a twitter party and I'm pretty excited that it's for Johnson and Johnson. Hope you join us! So follow me on twitter at @LaliQuin and let me know who INSPIRES YOU to CARE?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

8 Great Gifts under $25 for Kids with Autism by HASBRO

While at LATISM, I had the opportunity to meet several brands - one of them being HASBRO.  I got to check out some of their toys and I instantly fell in love with the Play-Doh Diggin' Riggs Buster The Power Crane. (I knew that was a must have for The Boy. With Christmas and his 7th birthday coming up - it'll be a wonderful surprise for him.) However I was surprised to discover that many of the toys we have in our home were part of the HASBRO family.

When it comes to toys, we just can't buy anything - we need to make sure that The Boy can benefit from it. Play skills don't come naturally to many children with autism - it really needs to be taught

But there is no need to break the bank when buying gifts. So I'd thought I'd share some of our favorite HASBRO toys all under $25.00.

Playskool Sesame Street Bert & Ernie Figures - $5.99 
18 months - 4 years old
There are other great figures (Elmo, Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster etc.) but right now The Boy really loves his Bert & Ernie. They are the perfect size for small hands and great for imaginative play. We love recreating our favorite scenes and making up new dialogue. 

Memory Disney Princess Edition - $8.99 
Memory Game Match and Motor Speedway Disney Pixar Cars 2 Edition - $8.99
For 1 or more players - 3 years and up
We have been playing Memory games with The Boy since Early Intervention. We started off slowly, with 2 or 3 sets and as he got better - we increased the number of possible matches. It has helped with both concentration and turn taking skills.  

Don't Break the Ice - $8.99
2 to 4 players - 3 years and up
This is The Boy's favorite game! It's fantastic for fine motor skills - holding the mallet and setting up the game - and great for turn taking/socialization. The Boy loves when all the ice cubes fall - he doesn't care that it means he lost the game, he's just having fun. I have to admit, I really like playing this game too.  

Scatterpillar Scramble - $19.99 
2 to 4 players - 4 years and up (choking hazard - not for children under 3 years old)
The Boy's former Occupational Therapist used to play this game during her sessions. Holding the tongs helped his pincer grasp and eye/hand coordination.

Play-Doh Diggin' Riggs Buster The Power Crane - $21.99
3 years and up
Because what kid doesn't love Play-Doh? And for kids with autism and sensory processing disorder, Play-Doh is always the perfect gift. When I saw this at LATISM I knew that it had to be on The Boy's holiday list for sure. He loves Play-Doh and cranes - this is really the best of both worlds. Play-Doh addresses sensory needs, fine motor skills, strengthens hand muscles and encourages imaginative play.  When in doubt - anything Play-Doh is great gift.  

Gator Golf - $22.99 
1 to 2 players - 3 years and up
The Husband loves playing Gator Golf with The Boy. Gator Golf is not only fun for everyone but it also helps strengthen hand muscles and core, increases concentration and helps coordination.   

SIT’N SPIN - $24.99
18 months to 5.5 years old
I regret that I jumped on the SIT'N SPIN band wagon too late. I should have purchased this as soon as The Boy was diagnosed. It's a great toy for sensory seekers! Not only does the SIT'N SPIN encourage balance and coordination but it also strengthens core and hand muscles. 

Remember: when buying toys for kids with autism - try not to focus on the age. Think of where the child is developmentally. For example, even though The Boy will be 7 in January - there are many toys in that age category that are too advanced. So I look at toys that are within the 3 - 5 year old range.
*This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On This Thanksgiving I Am Grateful...

For the warmth of my humble apartment. There are so many still without heat.

To have someplace to go tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner. There will be many who will be alone.

The Boy who has not yet discovered that I am not perfect. To him, I am close enough.

I have a husband who knows that I am not perfect. He loves me anyway.

I have family and a handful of friends who I can count on - no matter what.

I have a job. It's not the dream but it pays the bills. 

The Boy has made SO MUCH PROGRESS. Every single day, I am amazed. I haven't really had a chance to write much these days. But I am so very proud.    

I got one whole hour to myself today. I was completely alone. I ate my lunch in one sitting. I watched Parenthood on Hulu without pressing pause once.

My gratitude list could go on and on. But I'll stop here. Click HERE and visit my post on and find out what some of my autism blog friends are grateful for

The Boy made this at school. I cannot take credit for such creativity. I just don't have it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Family Day Fun! A Very #FurryChristmas at Sesame Place

Yesterday was the grand opening day of A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place

And we were invited to join in on the one-of-a-kind family-friendly celebration with our favorite furry friends.

Growing up, I never got the chance to go to Sesame Place so I get really happy to do things like this with The Boy. And once we convinced him that it was too cold for splashing water fun and showed him all the water attractions were closed - he had a blast.

The last time we went to Sesame Place  The Boy refused to get near any of the characters, even though he loves so many of them. This time was different, he sought them out - walked up to them and got lots of sensory furry hugs.

The Boy asked for specific rides, waited patiently on lines (the park was manageable enough that we didn't need the disability pass) and used lots of language through out the day. He was really happy being part of the holiday fun.   

Check out some of our pics

Christmas Tree at the Entrance

 Pictures cannot do this tree justice. It's just beautiful.
Picture with Santa
Don't ask how many photos it took to get this one right. But we got it.

Hold on to your cookies Norrin
This is the money shot of the day - The Husband captured a great moment.

The View from Snuffle's Slides
I was worried about whether it would be crowded, but it was quite manageable. We didn't even request a disability pass. And The Boy did a great job waiting on the lines.

With the water attractions closed, we got to see the parade. One of my favorite parts of the parade was when it started to snow. It really added to the festivities.
Spectacular lights
We left before it got really dark  but even at dusk - the park looked like a Winter Wonderland at lit up.

Father & Son
We'll be back soon! 

More pics to be posted later in the week

A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place is open select dates November 17th – December 31st. The fun starts with 3 special Christmas shows, dry rides (weather permitting), awesome music and twinkling lights all around. Sesame street glows with festivities and come to life at night with our illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Parade. And the fun continues with a special Christmas menu, super holiday shopping and, of course, a visit with Santa.

Disclosure: I was invited as a member of the media and provided with complimentary admission to the park. All opinions are my own.   

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Reality of the Latino Vote

Are you wondering about the breakdown of the Latino vote?

There's been a lot of media coverage about why Latinos voted for Obama. I mean, I know why I voted for him.

I live in The Bronx - a borough with a significant Latino population. And on Election Day, The Husband, The Boy and I went out to vote as a family. (Don't worry, there was no voter fraud funny business - The Boy didn't vote.) And when we reached our polling site, the line wrapped all around the block. (It was pretty cold that night. I wasn't wearing socks.)

There was a guy who came behind us and was annoyed by the length of the line. He said something about it being bad. And The Husband turned around and was like "Are you kidding? This is great! Every election should be like this."

The Husband is right. (I may live to regret writing those words.) EVERY single election should have the same turn out. We should always have to wait on block long lines to vote - not only every four years. 

Because when Latinos show up at the polls - we are a force to be reckoned with. There is power in numbers people. The GOV better recognize!

So how did Latinos vote? Check out LATISM's cool infograph breakdown:

Latinos Unidos Jamas Seran Vencidos 

Friday, November 16, 2012

How To Find a Speech Therapist

A Through the Looking Glass guest post written by Jacky G. as provided to me by Bradley Russel of Speech Buddies - Learn more at
Every child is unique, and not all children with autism will display the same symptoms. However, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often affects a child’s speech and language development. Some children may never speak, while others may communicate differently. Echolalia is common, which refers to the parroting of words and phrases in inappropriate contexts. For example, your child might repeat a catchphrase from a commercial when he has no apparent reason to do so.

Autistic children frequently have trouble applying language skills, as well. That is, they have difficulty interpreting facial expressions, body language, and nuances of conversation (i.e. sarcasm and idioms). You might notice that your child speaks at an atypical rate, has trouble taking turns in a conversation, or fails to make eye contact. A speech-language pathologist (SLP), or speech therapist, can help your child with all of these issues.

How Can a Speech Therapist Help?
If your child is nonverbal, he can still learn to communicate effectively in other ways. A speech therapist can teach your child to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. An AAC device is any tool that facilitates nonverbal communication. It can be tangible, like flashcards or an electronic reader device, or intangible, like sign language. The SLP can help you figure out the best method of communication for your child. Using AAC devices can greatly reduce your child’s frustration.

Speech therapists can also encourage the acquisition of speech and language. An SLP can teach your child conversation skills, such as how to interpret facial expressions and how to change topics when speaking. Social stories in particular can help autistic children. These are simple stories that discuss a specific social situation and how a child might react in that situation. Social stories may help teach your child how to interact with his peers.

How to Find a Speech Therapist
Private speech therapists work in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. Compile a list of local SLPs. You will also need to find out what your insurance will and will not cover. Private SLPs can be quite expensive. Consider looking into college clinics, as well.
Ideally, look for a speech therapist with extensive experience working with autistic children. Network with other parents of autistic children and ask for recommendations. Shop around. Talk to several speech therapists before choosing one. Ask about their education, credentials, and experience. Introduce your child to each SLP and observe how they interact. Your child should feel comfortable working with his SLP.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Special Education 101 (Infograph)

Ever wonder how Special Education works? Don't feel bad if you don't. Before we were thrown into Special Education world, I had no clue either.

Special Education is something that every parent needs to be aware of - even if you don't have a kid with special needs. Why? Because "more than 1/2 of students with disabilities spend 80% of their time in general education classrooms."

That's right - Special Ed kids spend the majority of their day with "typical" kids. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our kids about kids with special needs. 

Acceptance and awareness begins at home. But you cannot teach it, if you do not understand it.    

So check out this cool infograph. It really breaks it down. And for more information on Autism - check out my Autism 101 page by clicking HERE

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Understanding Autism Through Poetry (Poems by Scott Lentine)

A while back, a young man by the name of Scott Lentine emailed me two of his poems. As soon as I read them, I was incredibly moved. He asked that I share them on my page. This is Scott's perspective on his autism.


Just a Normal Day
Never knowing what to say
Never knowing what to do
Always looking for clues
Just a normal day

Feeling unsure
Totally perplexed with everyday life
Always on edge never certain
I wish I could lift this curtain

Needing to constantly satisfy my need for information
Always online searching for new revelations
Going from site to site
Obtaining new insights every night

Trying to connect with people my age
Attempting to reveal my unique vision
But ending up alone and unengaged
Feeling like my needs a total revision
Just a normal day


Can’t You See

Can’t you see
I just want to have a friend
Can’t you see
I need the same connections in the end

Can’t you see
I want a good job
Can’t you see
I need to have stability and dependence and part of the general mob

Can’t you see
I want to be independent on my own
Can’t you see
I want to be able to have my own home

Can’t you see
I want the same things as everyone else
Can’t you see
I want to be appreciated for myself

Scott Lentine, a 25 year old man with high-functioning autism (PDD-NOS/Asperger's) from Billerica, MA, a Boston suburb. He graduated from Merrimack College magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies with a Biology minor. Scott is currently an office intern at the Arc of Massachusetts in Waltham, where he tries to persuade lawmakers to pass key disability resources legislation to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Scott is interested in data clerical entry duties, hospital settings, autism non-profit organizations, and research type work. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Because I'm Stressed Out, Doesn't Mean I Can't Have #FreshSkin

I can't believe next week is Thanksgiving. And in a few more weeks, I'll have finished another semester of graduate school. I have to register for the Spring semester and prepare my thesis. I still have a bunch of papers to write - I've kind of fallen behind on my school stuff. And then Christmas will be here soon too which means shopping and decorating...

I'm not going to lie. Writing all this down, thinking about all that needs to get done in the next few weeks sort of has me stressed out. 

And when I'm stressed out, I break out. (Because I forget about the little things like washing my face twice a day.) And when I break out - I don't feel my feel my best. Which is especially stressful because this is also the time of year when there are parties and gatherings and people want to take pictures and instantly upload them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.     And who wants to be photographed not looking or feeling their best? Certainly not me.

So I'm really excited about Neutrogena's Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit line of products.  

The Pink Grapefruit cream, gel and cleansers contain the patented MicroClear Technology that cuts through oil to speed the delivery of maximum-strength acne medicine, salicylic acid (2%) to the source of breakouts. And all the products are gentle enough for everyday use.
Neutrogena's Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit products leaves my face feeling fresh and clean and the citrus scent gives me that burst of energy I need - especially in the morning.

I condition myself to wash my face twice a day - right after brushing my teeth (in the morning and night). I'm already at the sink and it takes a few extra minutes. I think I'm worth the time. And I know I'll be Instagram ready.    

I cannot wait for the NEW! Neutrogena Oil-Free Cleansing Wipes Pink Grapefruit for Acne Prone-Skin (available January 2012). The wipes are great to keep in my desk drawer at work or in my bag. Because I am the kind of busy multi-tasking mom who will walk and wipe. 

This post is compensated and in collaboration with Neutrogena and Latina Bloggers Connect, all opinions are my own. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thank You Margot Condon: One of the NICU Nurses Who Saved The Lives of 20 Infants During #HurricaneSandy #InspireCare

While at the LATISM 2012 conference I had the privilege of being sponsored by  Johnson & Johnson.

While in the J&J suite bloggers had the opportunity to learn about  the inspiring J&J initiatives. What I liked most about the J&J suite was that they encouraged bloggers to really think about the people in their everyday lives.
#JnJ Suite ~ LATISM12

Johnson & Johnson is a company who is committed to:
  • Saving and Improving Lives 
    • Healthy Babies Are Worth The Wait: "The Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C. partners with the March of Dimes and the Kentucky Department for Public Health on Healthy Babies Are Worth the WaitSM, a three-year prematurity prevention initiative to demonstrate a reduction in preventable preterm births in targeted geographies in Kentucky."
  • Building Health Care Capacity
    • A Legacy of Supporting Nurses: Johnson & Johnson's "support programs promoting the nursing profession and provide leadership and development opportunities to further the field. In Africa, we teach student nurses basic skills in surgery, trauma and midwifery. In the U.S., we manage a campaign to educate the public about careers in nursing. Nurses from around the world learn about essential business management techniques through programs we support."
  • Preventing Diseases
    • Healthy Land, Healthy People: Johnson & Johnson's "“Healthy Communities, Healthy Ecosystems” partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) links healthy environment and the health of local people. “Supporting the health of local communities enables these communities to sustainably manage the natural resources base on which they depend,” said Katarina Trojnar, corporate relations officer at WWF."
(For more J&J inspiring initiatives click HERE)

For me the most thought provoking activities in the J&J suite were: What Inspires You? and Write a letter to a Health Care Provider That Made a Difference in Your Life.

I really didn't need to think too hard about who/what inspires me.

And as far as health care providers that made a difference in our life - that came easily too. Immediately I thought about The Boy's Early Intervention years and the two women who worked with The Boy.  

But days later, I found myself inspired by a woman I never met, whose name I didn't know - a health care provider who didn't make a difference in my life.

It was early Tuesday morning, a few hours after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, and I was watching CNN. Since I was stranded in Texas due to the storm, I was up most of the night, glued to the news. And that's when the image of a woman came on the screen. She was being wheeled out of NYU Hospital, an bundled infant cradled in her arms.

The hospital had lost its power, in the middle of a hurricane and the patients had to be evacuated. The woman holding the baby was a nurse in the NICU and the baby - only 8 hours old - needed air pumped into his tiny lungs. Margot Condon not only walked down dark flights of stairs with a newborn in her arms, but she manually pumped air into his lungs so that he stay alive.  

There are people in this world, who wake up every morning and simply go to  work. They perform a job. And then there are people who wake up every morning and make a difference. It's more than just a job. They care. They provide a service. They save lives.

Margot Condon is a woman who makes a difference. THANK YOU! You are an inspiration.

While she didn't make a direct impact in my life, Margot Condon, changed my mindset regarding all health care providers. And I will never take them for granted again. Because I will never know when/if they may be solely responsible for a life that I love.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How I Do It

I work full time.  I go to grad school part time. I write this blog.  I write a weekly post for The Max. And occasionally someone else will ask that I write for them. And sometimes because of my writing, I have the opportunity to travel.

All this and I have a 6.5 year old kid with autism.

People often ask me, how I do it.

And when asked this question, I shrug my shoulders and dismiss all I do.  Because most days, I don’t give it much thought.

I do it with very little thanks but know that I am appreciated.

I do it because I am lucky to have a husband who is supportive.

I do with coffee every morning and - at times - one too many glasses of wine at night.

I do it without making the beds in the morning and leaving dishes overnight in the sink.

I do it without cooking, dusting or mopping as much as I should.  

I do it with constant guilt and fear of failure.

I do it because I need to work, I am eager to learn and I want to be known for something more as Norrin's mom, Joseph's wife and someone's secretary.

I do it on less than a six figure salary. (That’s right Mitt, I’m part of that 47%) 

I do it without mani's, pedi's and trips to the spa.

I do it with very little help from family and with less help from friends.

I do it uncertain whether anything I do will make a difference.

I do it on days when all I want to do is stay in bed and cry. And on days when I believe anything is possible.

I do it while being physically present but my mind is usually someplace else.

Most days I do it hanging by a thread. 

I do it with laughter because humor gets me by.      

I do it knowing I can't change the past but hoping to change the future.

I do it because on the day The Boy was born, I promised I would love him unconditionally.

I do it because I cannot control how others will treat him, but I can control how I will support him.

I do it living in a black and white world, The Boy is the only color I see.

(originally posted on October 12)